Tag Archive Review


Review: Greene Bark Press

I’m one of those moms. You know, the kind that try not to be helicopter moms, but on the inside still want to jump out and protect their kid every second. I stand back and watch my kids as carefully as I can without smothering them. While placing them each in bubbles is tempting, I have not. The best way to ease my mind but give my children freedom is to teach them every aspect of safety that I can. So when I was given the opportunity to review the book Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again from Greene Bark Press I was intrigued. A book about safety? Sounds good. But would it keep the kids’ attention? That it did!

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Written by Ginger Pate and illustrated by Rhett Pennell, Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again is a board book about a little duck named Wally. Wally is a lovable little character who wants to mail a card he has made to his Grandma, and eventually visit her. But to do that, he has to learn to cross the street properly. Wally’s mom helps him learn how to do this, guiding him a long the way with cute little phrases and corrections. The pages are full of color and eye catching illustrations, while the story includes sound effects for the reader to sound out. Not leaving out humor, the book drills the message of how to appropriately handle being a pedestrian in a few different scenarios home to young children, emphasizing the importance of safety.


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 My children adore this book. Molly loves to help sound out the sound effects with me while pointing to the photos as Tommy pops in to finish the sentences. Yes, we have read it enough for them to memorize the book and they still want to keep reading it! Just today I heard Tommy say to Molly as they played, “Be sure to look left again for elephants!”

Greene Bark Press

If you have a young child this is a great book to add to your collection. It doesn’t seem preachy, dry, or boring at all. The kids love the story and it brings a great message. Priced at $8.50 and made with sturdy board, it would make a great book to keep in the car or stroller.



 Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew



Review: Reading Kingdom

For some children, learning to read with a book just isn’t enough. They need something that is more multi-sensory. With these kids, this might mean using an online program like Reading Kingdom to help them learn the skills they need.

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Whether your child is just starting out or has been struggling with learning to read for some time, Reading Kingdom can help teach your child to read and write at a 3rd grade level. By starting out with a very thorough assessment, the program knows exactly where to place your child and what challenges are necessary to help him or her thrive. By using colorful animations with fun sounds, most 4-10 year olds will feel like they are playing a game at times instead of actually learning.

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By covering sequencing, writing, sounds, meaning, grammar, and comprehension, Reading Kingdom helps children learn to read in a more balanced approach than phonics (sounds) alone. Parents are emailed regularly with updates on progress their child is making and can log in and see where their children are at, adjust the settings (I had to increase the response time for Tommy, as he needed a bit more time to find the keys on the keyboard.), and manage the readers. That’s right, you can have more than one child on your account! Being that it is a website where you log in and not a software, you are able to use Reading Kingdom on any computer making it extremely convenient. I loved that if needed I could send Tommy to my Mom’s for the day and he could still get some of his studies done, yet I would still know his exact progress as I could look at it online.

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While the program costs $19.99 a month for the first child, $9.99 for each additional (Or the annual plan of $199.99, $99.99 for each additional child.), Reading Kingdom is flexible in that they give you a 30 day free trial before you begin paying for the subscription. This way you will know if it is the right fit for your family before you commit to it financially.

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Tommy struggled a bit with this program in the beginning. However, once I fixed the response time and he became more familiar with the keyboard he began to like it. Overall, we really like this program and I believe it might be a really good fit for him. He’s quite fond of the little characters on the screen, making up little names for them and such. When he is congratulated for getting something right by the program, he says, “Why, thank you!”. Such a funny kid. It has really helped him with sequencing and sounds.

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If you’re looking for a different approach than you’ve tried in the past, or have a beginning reader that needs something a bit more visual, I would definitely recommend Reading Kingdom. If you do try it out, be sure to let me know!



Want to know what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of Reading Kingdom? Click to read more reviews.



Review: Bible Study Guide For All Ages

About a month ago, a week or two after we began using Bible Study Guide For All Ages to review the Beginner Level Student Pages, Beginner Level Time Line, and the Children’s Song CD Set in our homeschool, I had sent my oldest daughter, Becca, and my middle son, Tommy, to church with my parents as I was not feeling well.  When they arrived home, before I had a chance to say anything, Becca went right into telling me how her little brother embarrassed her in Children’s Church. My first thought was “Oh no, what did he do…”, so with fear I listened her tell me how he interrupted the teacher several times.


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Now, let me be clear that I am not condoning his behavior, and I was still embarrassed. (Melissa, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry!) However, his reason for interrupting was because he was excited that he knew all the details of the story of Joseph that the lesson was detailing. From the Coat of Many Colors all the way up to Joseph becoming Pharaoh. After having a talk with Tommy on how impolite it is to interrupt our teachers, I walked away surprised. “He knows every detail of the story! Every single bit! Wow!


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Intended for ages 3 – Kindergarten, Bible Study Guide For All Ages Beginner Level is a complete Bible Study that covers more than just a simple story with each lesson, but helps your child memorize Books of the Bible, each day of Creation, lineage of the Bible, and more. There is little prep work to be done for each lesson on your part, yet so much material is covered. The most I ever had to do to prepare for a lesson was to cue the songs on the CDs that were to be used that day or find a household object to bring to lesson time with me.


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Each day we began by pulling out the student page we would be using. It literally walked me through each step right there, instead of having to jump from place to place to know what needed to be done. First we would go through our Time Line cards that we hung around the room. These are 8 1/2 x 11 card stock pages that go through people and events in the Bible in the order they took place. We went through each of these each day that we did a lesson, adding a new card each day. Next, we would sing a few songs and memory drills along with the Children’s Songs CD, go over some memorization and simple questions about things we had already learned, and then I would do a little lesson that was mostly read from the page where I applied the story we were about to learn to present day. Once all of this was done, we jumped right into that days lesson.


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Here is where it got really cool. The lesson is set out as if it were a comic strip, making it easy for little ones to follow along.At this point, I would read the story from the page and at the end of each segment there would be a little instruction for the child to color or mark the photo in one way or another.


Bible Study Guide For All Ages - Beginner's Time Line - Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven


At the end of the story, we would flip the page over and do a quick question and answer about what was going on in the photo. One example was a picture of little boy holding a glass behind his back as he told his dad that he didn’t know where his lemonade was. The question was if the little boy was lying. (Good luck to you if your child is like mine and quickly colors the glass a light shade of brown to make it Iced Tea so that the boy is not lying about not knowing where the lemonade is… 😉 )


Bible Study Guide For All Ages - Beginner Level Student Pages - Raising Sticky Hands To Heaven

Overall, our family LOVES Bible Study Guide For All Ages and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants a thorough, Biblical, and easy approach to teaching the Bible to their children.

The Beginner Level Student Pages are $5.95 per unit. (26 lessons, you’ll need one for each child.)
The Beginner Level Time Line is $24.95. (You only need to buy this once, and only need one total.)
The Children’s Songs CD Set is $19.95. (This will only need to be purchased once as well.)




Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew, including reviews for products at different age levels.



Review: BrainFood Learning – The Fascinating World Of Birds

Sometimes when teaching our children, they just need to “see” what we are trying to convey to them instead of only listening to us talk or reading it from a book. Other times, we get tired of them watching the same uneducational programs and movies over and over, and we wish there was something interesting for them to watch and absorb instead. Recently, our family was given the opportunity to review a DVD from BrainFood Learning. For our family it was the solution to both of the scenarios listed above.


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The particular DVD we received was The Fascinating World of Birds. In this DVD children of all ages, and even parents, can learn many incredible facts about birds of all kinds. Covering everything from molting to why ostriches eat rocks, this DVD will intrigue both you and your children with gorgeous video and photographs.

Some examples of topics our family learned about and were fascinated about are what gizzards are for, how nests are built, different types of food that different types of birds eat, facts about migration, why birds that swim or don’t fly have wings, how long geese stay with their mates, and more. The title of this DVD is not an exaggeration. It is truly fascinating. Even I learned quite a bit of facts I didn’t know or had forgotten!

The birds covered in this DVD are ostrich, penguin, Cnad Goose, owl, hummingbird, woodpecker, macaw, pelican, American Robin, and eagle.

We watched this DVD quite a few times and all seemed to find something we had missed the times we had viewed it before. The children never seemed bored watching it, and even Molly who is only 2 sat still for most of it.

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The DVD comes with an option to have a review of the information that is contained in the DVD play immediately at the end of the movie, or played separately from the DVD menu. There is a section of the review for early learners with flash card type questions and answers. There is also a section for older learners that includes questions with multiple choice answers. It was fun to watch Tommy and Becca try to see who could answer the questions correctly first.

One other really cool thing, that is a recent addition to this product, is a set of free lesson plans on the BrainFood website that covers a few subjects. Using this DVD and the lesson plans, you could easily have a Unit Study on birds!

At the price of $14.99, this DVD is quite affordable. Especially for the amount of information packed into it. If your children are interested in birds, you are planning a study on birds, or would like to build your educational DVD collection, then I would highly recommend purchasing this amazing resource.



Interested in reading what others thought of this product, or about “The Fascinating World of Insects” and “The Fascinating World of Mammals” DVDs also offered by BrainFood Learning? Then click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.




Review: The Homegrown Preschooler

I must admit, I was skeptical. In the 4 years of homeschooling preschoolers that our family has accomplished, we have owned & checked out many books from Gryphon House . Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE everything this company puts out. But a book on homeschooling? I wasn’t so sure. Yet here I am, eating crow, because The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live has gone above and beyond my expectations on what any book on homeschooling preschoolers should be.

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Written by two homeschool moms, Kathy Lee & Lesli Richards, this book explains every bit of what it is like to homeschool a young child in every circumstance. Full of tips, recipes for meals, recipes for creative play and art, an amazing amount of ideas and activities, and timeless advice this book is the source that every mother that is homeschooling a preschooler, veteran or rookie, could use. Connecting with the authors comes right off the bat in the first few pages as they explain why they decided to homeschool and how much they love teaching their children at home. Kathy, a woman who studied early childhood development and had a career in the same category, states how much she loves seeing her child experience “aha moments”. Lesli explains how she learned that you don’t have to be perfect to homeschool. I couldn’t agree with both of the authors more.

The entire book is filled with a variety of sections. From child development to how to build your own sensory table, it covers it all. There is even a chapter on homeschooling your special needs preschooler, which was timely for me personally. There is even a section on adopting a preschooler! At the end of the book are checklists, a form for lesson planning, and plans to build helpful furniture for your own homeschool.

Review The Homegrown Preschooler


The first part of the book covers all the tips, evaluations, routines, development, ways of handing different situations, and more. The second part of the book is the fun: The activities, lessons, crafts, and ways to help your child learn.

The chapters of this book are as follows:

  • Introduction: Our Journeys To Growing Our Children At Home
  1. Homeschooling – Harvesting A Bountiful Life
  2. Learning Through Play
  3. Sowing The Seeds – Preschool Learning
  4. Setting The Stage
  5. Home Life = Learning – Slow Down And Teach
  6. Who Has Time For This?
  7. Organizing It All
  8. Days And Season That Don’t Fit In The Box
  9. Special Circumstances
  • Activities
    •  Home life
    •  Science
    •  Gross Motor
    •  Fine Motor
    •  Math
    •  Language Arts
    •  Art
    •  Social – Emotional

The book also includes an appendix and index at the end.


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For me, personally, I didn’t expect to learn as much as I have from this book. I thought that in my 4 years of homeschooling a preschooler that I knew all there was to know. I’ve read countless books, articles, and blogs. However, there were apparently many things I did not know. In my life I have never taken so many notes, underlined, highlighted, applied sticky notes, etc. in one book. Not even in college. I’m excited to state that our new homeschool year for 2013 – 2014 is going to look very differently than in previous years thanks to this book. For our Summer school, I have had the little ones follow most of the activities listed in this book such as dramatic play, hands on learning, constructive play, & playing with a purpose.

With the advice for busy moms, making goals, organizing it all, recipes, and more, my outlook and approach has improved. The book reminds me a lot of the Montessori approach, but is also different in it’s own way as it has a more relaxed way of going about it.

One of the many fun things we’ve done in our home are the busy bags and bins as suggested in The Homegrown Preschooler. Some for home, some for on the go. My little girl, only 2, now helps more with household chores and is learning all at the same time. My autistic son is loving the sensory ideas and our family is excited for my husband to build him the light and sensory tables as described in the appendix of the book. (Great for children without special needs, as well!) I will likely never buy “doughs” for play or bubbles again, as there are many recipes for different types that are so much fun, easy to make, and cost much less! Our outdoor play is more organized and fun. I could go on and on…

There is no specific or right way to use this book. Each day in our home is different. But The Homegrown Preschooler is now used daily in our homeschool, sitting on top of my daily planning binder for helping me plan my days. I am asked often by new homeschoolers on how to do preschool at home. From now on, I will be recommending this book. Every new (and veteran) homeschool-preschool mom should read this. It literally covers everything you can imagine.

I do want to mention one thing specifically: I have been ill this summer with a rare blood clot in a strange part of my body. This book covers homeschooling in difficult seasons of life. It has really helped me in how I approach each day while dealing with an illness and impaired from going about our days in the way we usually do. The book has also suggested how to help my children handle it all. Perfect for what we are going through right now, and has made quite the difference. Instead of sitting around whining about how we are not getting it all just right like we usually do, we are doing what we need to do. We are just going about it at a different routine.


The price of The Homegrown Preschooler: Teaching Your Kids in the Places They Live is $29.95.



Want to read what others thought of The Homegrown Preschooler and another Gryphon House book, Global Art? Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.



Review: Circle Time – Planning The Best Part of Your Day From Preschoolers And Peace

I still remember when my husband, Bobby, and I first decided to homeschool. (Ironically, it was almost a year after we said up and down that we would never homeschool.) Having been a homeschool graduate, I was ecstatic. Tommy had just turned 2 and was begging us to learn. He asked so many questions and needed to be challenged. We figured we might as well get started… While it was early, I figured we could do simple toddler activities and enjoy our time together. I assumed that as my children got older it would be pretty easy, having 3 children in 3 years, to combine everything for them to learn a good amount of things together… Boy, was I wrong! I wish I had read Circle Time by Kendra Fletcher from Preschoolers and Peace then!

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Now, let me be clear. We have always had what we called “circle time”. Here’s how it was supposed to go: About 30-60 minutes of myself with all kids (in the Summer the older 2 are included): Begin with prayer, move right in to The Pledge of Allegiance, calendar time, weather, address & phone numbers, alphabet, counting to 100, quick review of what was learned the day before, memory scripture, Bible lesson, and story time. Ahh.. No. That’s not how it went. Not at all. It either took much longer while I tried to keep Johnny Ben from either escaping the room or dumping out art supplies and Molly begged and cried until I let her get out the crayons or turn on an educational DVD (The DVDs seem special to them because we are only allowed to watch those DVDs in the homeschool room… or I’m just that boring…) while Tommy shouted “Yay! Schools done! Can I play with :insert legos, playdoh, Wii, outside, or something else fun here: now?” or much shorter because I just gave up and moved on to what was next. Every. Single. Day. Kindergartener, Delayed Preschooler, & Toddler. Why did I think it would go so smooth?!

Our circle time made a sudden major transformation about 6 weeks ago. The kids didn’t know what to think and kept insisting I was doing it wrong. They had no idea I had read Circle Time or what I was doing, but after about 2 minutes they finally sat down and went along with it. In the book, there were… wait, I’m getting ahead of myself! I need to tell you about the book!

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Kendra Fletcher is a mom to 8 kids of which she homeschools. In a way to spend more time as a family and simplify life by teaching her children of multiple ages at the same time, she has circle time so that they are all able to learn various studies together. In Circle Time, she goes about outlining how she does circle time with her children, what has worked, what hasn’t, ideas for keeping little ones busy, things to use during circle time, words from others who have circle time and how they do it, and how to transition into the rest of the day while everyone does their individual studies.

While the book is a quick read of only 32 pages, it packs quite a punch! I was able to read it, take notes, use the printables, and plan the next days circle time in one night. Since then I have gone back and referenced this little book for more ideas. It has truly been a sanity saver.

The chapters are as follows:

  • Planning a Circle Time That Works for You
  • Strategies for a Peaceful Time Together
  • How to Get Your Kids on Board
  • Questions From Moms Like You
  • Words of Wisdom From Other Moms Who Do Circle Time
  • Resources, Activities, and Ideas
  • Printable Planner Sheets

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So back to where I left off… In the book, there are printable planning/idea sheets. The night before our first new and improved circle time, I filled them out and made a goal of how long I wanted our circle time to last. It included starting off with a new way of praying that is explained in Circle Time. (What a hit! The kids now spend time thinking of what they will pray for.) The rest all went so smooth and by the end, everyone was ready to sit down and do what they were supposed to do next. My children have learned a few scriptures (much more easily) and have begun to learn other memory work as well. Even on that first day, we far surpassed my initial goal for how long circle time should last. Mom is happy. The kids are happy. Johnny Ben isn’t trying to escape and Molly isn’t bored. Success! (I would have included a photo of us doing circle time, but we are always so wrapped up in it we always forget to take a picture. :/ Sorry.)

Circle Time is available at Preschoolers and Peace for $4.99 in PDF ebook format.


Circle Time was reviewed by other TOS Review Crew bloggers as well. You can click here to read their reviews as well. Enjoy!



Review: Couponing Made Simple By Christi The Coupon Coach

Ever go grocery shopping, feeling confident that you had found some great deals, only to be shocked by what the cash register is asking you to hand over? Same here. That’s why I was elated to be given the opportunity to review the book Couponing Made Simple by Christi The Couponing Coach.


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I had tried couponing in the past, but honestly it stressed me out. I spent hours trying to figure out what was worth clipping, trying to remember what I clipped, and then fumbling through the grocery store only to arrive home and realize I forgot to hand the cashier a coupon or became so stressed out that I didn’t use them at all. I kept pushing through, but when my husband had to take over grocery shopping for a short time after I had my last baby and refused to take coupons, I just got out of the habit.

Fast forward to a few months ago: We decided to take the plunge and become a cash only family. I’ll be honest and tell you it has been more than a challenge at times. But thanks to Couponing Made Simple, I have found a way to make it much easier.

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Christi’s book goes over ways to save while not cheating the system. Stacking coupons with items already on sale along with an easy way to keep it all organized that isn’t head ache inducing. The chapters are as follows:

  1. Success Stories
  2. A New Way to Shop
  3. The Language of Couponing
  4. Organization System
  5. Step-by-Step Process
  6. Tips & Tools
  7. Couponing Ethics
  8. Networking & Communicating
  9. Bonus Section
  10. Beyond Couponing

Christi goes into great detail in her book to explain how and where to find coupons, building a habit of looking for deals without it being a chore, and how to keep it all organized. She even explains how online forums for couponing work and the lingo!

I was able to read Couponing Made Simple in just a few hours split between 2 nights before bed. This book made me excited to grocery shop! I could hardly wait for the weekly coupons to come in the mail and even set an alert on my husband’s phone to remind him to pick up newspapers on Sunday mornings just in case I was unable to. He, of course, was skeptical and set two rules:

  1. No Stockpiling
  2. Only buy items we would normally use

The stockpiling rule bummed me out. As Christi states in her book, this isn’t about buying multitudes of items like they do in the reality shows, but hey, who doesn’t want to stock up on a few things when they are at a low price? However, striving to be a more submissive wife, I obliged.  Bobby also made a good point that we just don’t have the room in our home to contain more than what we are currently consuming.

After following her plan of looking, clipping, and organizing I set out on my first grocery trip. It all went so smoothly and I was so ecstatic to see I saved $80! I was apparently too happy though, as I now don’t remember what the total was or take a photo of how much we bought. But I can promise you, it was a LOT! My second trip, however, I remembered to track it all. This was a “quick” trip to the grocery store to get some easily made (mostly processed, not our usual fare) meals to help our family survive while we are beating the flu. Before I headed out, I scanned the coupons I had and made a list. My son and I were in and out of the store in 30 minutes and had bought quite a bit. The savings was 19%. Not bad for an unplanned trip!

Couponing Made Simple

Overall, I recommend reading this book if you are interested in saving money for your family and the idea of couponing overwhelms you. It truly does what the title says and makes it simple!

Christi The Coupon Coach’s book Couponing Made Simple is available in paperback for $18.00 or you can purchase her Kindle version for $4.99.


Want to hear what others have to say? Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.




Review: Christianity Cove

Thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew, our family has been blessed to be able to review 2 products from Christianity Cove recently.

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Christianity Cove is a company that offers curricula that is marketed to be used for Sunday School and Children’s ministries for Bible lessons, snacks, and activities, but can also be used in homeschools as well. Offering a large variety of topics and lesson types, there is pretty much something for every class or household. One of the biggest goals of Christianity Cove is to offer lessons that are simple to pull together, use items that are around the house or obtained at an extremely low price, and pack a big punch to get the message across in a way that not only kids will remember, but find fun at the same time. The products we were given to review were 28 Outstanding Object Lessons and Fruits of the Spirit Activity Kit.

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28 Outstanding Object Lessons was a huge hit not only with my children, but with myself as well. Using items that were literally right here in my home, I was able to teach my children a lesson about spirituality and God’s word.

I think my favorite was a lesson where I asked my children to lay on the cold hard floor and try to sleep. Now, I won’t lie. They hated it. But that was the point. I then gave them blankets and pillows to lay on and they found them selves warm and more comfortable. The moral of the lesson was that God protects us from a cold world.

The 28 lessons covered so many subjects. Considering that my children are 2, 3, and 5, (I’ll be honest and tell you that only the 5 year old paid true attention) there were some I knew they just wouldn’t get so I had to skip some. However, that was one thing I loved. I could pick and choose what lesson I wanted to do each day because they didn’t have to be done in order. There was little to no prep, the lesson is scripted (but can easily be adapted to your own words without having to stop and think of how to reword it), and it really caught the kids attention. What kid doesn’t get interested when you start pulling rags out of flashlight instead of batteries? How about asking them why your hair dryer isn’t drying your hair when it’s not plugged in? The lessons pulled Tommy in, kept him there, and later he still remembers the point of the story or action. Our family was not disappointed!  Christianity Cove offers this curriculum kit for $28.00.

Fruits Of The Spirit Logo

The Fruits of the Spirit Activity Kit was also very fun! It taught us the principles of Godly character brought forth in Galatians 5:19-26. This kit came with printables, lessons, activities, snack ideas, games, and more. My kids LOVED that they got to get really hands on and eat a snack of fruit at the same time. This set was also scripted with the words for the teacher in bold, making it even easier to find where you left off, and included study notes for the teacher as well. This is an awesome set for older children. I’m not saying we didn’t like it and have fun, but some of the subject matter (such as drinking and sexual immorality) were not things I wanted to have to explain to my Kindergartener, Preschooler, and Toddler. The skills needed for some of the worksheets and activities were also over their head. Like I said, it’s a great set, just not for young children, in my opinion at least. Christianity Cove offers this kit for $19.00.

Overall, I was very pleased with the quality of these lessons and activities. Being that I have been sick lately, I was able to sit on the couch and easily do most of them without much physical effort. I didn’t have to spend a lot of money, and what I did have to buy were simple items that can be used again and again. The kids were happy, learning, and retaining. That made me extremely happy. I would also like to say that I really wish I had known about Christianity Cove when I was teaching Children’s Church for a short time. As with any Bible lesson, you do have to take some time to pray and prepare before you teach it to the kids, but this really made it all so easy. I would definitely recommend it.

(I’m sorry for not having personally taken photos for this post… As I mentioned, I have been ill for the last month or so, which explains the “brain fog” to only realize NOW that I didn’t take a single photo. Please forgive me! This review really does deserve photos… Lots of them! But it does not mean we did not enjoy it! We loved it!)

Many other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have also been reviewing various products from Christianity Cove. Be sure to click here and go find out what lessons they tried out and what they thought of them.



Review: Dr. Craft’s Active Play! Fun Physical Activities For Young Children

As many of you know, I have 3 children ages 5 and under living here at home with me. While Tommy is 5, my 3 year old, Johnny Ben, was recently diagnosed as being on the lower end of the Autism Spectrum and my youngest, Molly, is 22 months old. Sometimes coming up with physical activities that all 3 are capable of doing can be a challenge. One can only play so many rounds of the same game before they become bored or annoyed… So I was often found standing there playing Motor Boat or Ring Around The Rosey by myself with no one to play with me. Rejection, it’s hard stuff… So when I was given the  opportunity to review Active Play! Fun Physical Activities for Young Children by Dr. Craft’s Active Play Books I jumped at it.
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Active Play! is a book and DVD set of 52 activities that can be done easily, mostly using items you already have or can attain easily for low cost. Consisting of 8 chapters and a “Game Finder” that is a few pages long, the book is well written and has black and white photos to make it easy to understand what the author is trying to explain in the text.

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The first 3 chapters cover the need for active play in young children, going over how important exercise, proper nutrition, and safety are. It also went over how to go about including children who may not be physically able to play, are older, and how to use the activities in different settings along with how to go about gathering your equipment. While a lot of these topics might seem like common sense, I found them to be helpful and informative for the most part. It was especially nice to read about how to modify the games for Johnny Ben since I’m really new to learning how to adapt things for a child with special needs.

The next 3 chapters is the fun stuff, the activities. Active Play! activities for young children, infants and toddlers, school aged children, and families. I can honestly say I am not near creative enough to have come up with the ideas for most of these games on my own! The activities are not limited to just playing for the sake of play, but some teach other life and learning skills as well. For example, “Laundry Pick-Up” teaches children to… pick up laundry. 😉 There is also “Matching Numbers” which has kids running, jumping, galloping, hopping, and sliding while learning how to sequence and match numbers. There are more games that teach math, science, and social skills as well. I love that each activity in Active Play! is well written out by listing at the top the goals for the activity, the equipment needed, instructions, and then options to make it easier, harder, or add variety. Some games, such as “Matching Numbers” also includes instructions for making your own equipment. Some of the activities have to be done either outside or inside, but most are adaptable to be done either way which is nice. No worry about the whether or if your entire family is suddenly plagued by chicken pox! You can still play!

The last chapter is my most favorite part of all: A lesson plan! At first glance you might ask “Why do I need a lesson plan done for me to do activities with my kids?” However, if you’re a busy mom of littles like I am, it’s nice to have all the work done for you. The night before or in the morning all I had to do was see what game we would be playing and make sure I had all the items together in one spot ready to go. Set up for 20 weeks to be used 5 days a week, the lesson plan has a warm-up activity for each week and a more active activity for every day. If the game hasn’t been played before, it lists it as “new” so that you’ll be prepared to teach it to the children (and yourself). On Friday, you or the kids get to repeat a favorite. The lesson plans are set up so that the kids learn a few new games each week while repeating some in way that they learn a few games at a time before moving on to others. I really liked the way it was laid out.

At first I thought “Why a DVD?” but this actually turned out to be a nice addition for a few reasons. 1: I didn’t have to guess if I didn’t quite understand one instruction and 2: I could show the kids how to play the game before we played it. It was also handy this last week, as my children have chicken pox. They didn’t feel up to playing, but sure enough, they asked to watch this DVD so they could see other kids playing. That might sound REALLY sad, but it was actually their idea and they really enjoyed it. Not all of the activities are included on the DVD, but the page with the instructions has a little icon at the top telling you if it is on the DVD or not.

In addition to everything being all planned out for me in the lesson plans, being able to pull it all together so easily for little to no cost was awesome. When we first received the book, I made a list of things we might need and first looked around our home to see what we already had that we could use. What was left on the list was all acquired during one trip to the dollar store.

The cost of Active Play! Fun Physical Activities For Young Children is $39.00.

All in all, we love this activity book and will continue to use it for a few years, I’m sure.




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Review: Leadership Garden Legacy

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UNIQUE Kids book photo leadership-uniquekidsbook_zps3822722c.jpgAs parents, we all have a desire for our children to stand out and be natural born leaders.  As anyone who’s been tasked with shaping a young person knows, it’s not as simple as “just add water”. Providing a child with the skill set and ability to use it can be a challenge.  Enter Leadership Garden Legacy with  U.N.I.Q.U.E., by Deborah J. Slover.  We were sent a thoughtful and well put together kit, designed to pass important leadership tools to not only children, ages 5 to 12, but their older siblings and parents as well.

The book, U.N.I.Q.U.E Kids: Growing My Leadership Garden ($18.95) follows the story of a little lamb named Hugh as he wanders on to Leadership Farm. There he learns the values of leadership, how life choices he made could have turned things around had he handled them differently, and how to move forward in a more wholesome positive way. The book is full of metaphors, obviously stemming from the Leadership Garden theme, to help teach children life skills such as “Be nonjudgemental, Do not enable, Use empathy, Prune gossip, Eliminate blame, & Eradicate victimization” by following the story of Hugh. Our family completely agrees that these are all qualities that are extremely important. The only issue we had with this was that not only did Tommy really not get that the story was telling him that, but my husband and I both had to sit down and look over the materials and really scratch our heads to try and figure out how the story was relaying that, exactly. It’s really not an easy story to follow along with for an adult, so we had to stop every few minutes and explain what the story was trying to say to Tommy.

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The U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids Activity Guide ($8.95) follows along with the book, not only repeating the study questions at the end of each chapter, but suggesting activities that might be beneficial to learn along with the study. Some are directly related, some merely followed the theme of gardening and embraced another subject all together. Also listed in the guide were Common Core Alignments should that be something your family is interested in for your homeschool. While some sections of this guide made it easier for Tommy to understand what was just read to him, others made it even more confusing.

UNIQUE Kids MP3 photo leadership-kids-cdmp3_zpsaf402d56.jpgFinally, in the Children’s series, is the U.N.I.Q.U.E. Kids Audio Book – MP3 Download ( $8.95). I actually found this product extremely useful, and have since decided audio books are awesome for Tommy… Why didn’t I think of that before? The reader’s voice is friendly and easy to listen to. Each page has the little “ding” to tell you to turn the page as I remember they did when I was a kid. Tommy was able to guide his own reading and feel more independent even though I was within a few feet of him at all times.

Leadership Garden Guidebook photo leadership-adultleadership-guidebook_zpsf2bbaaad.jpgAlso included in the Family Tool Kit we received was the adult version of the book titled U.N.I.Q.U.E.: Growing The Leader Within ($18.95) and The Leadership Garden Guidebook ($18.95). The book is actually a more detailed version of the children’s book while also taking breaks to tell the author’s life story. The guidebook follows along with the book going through more reading and having you do written activities As with the children’s products, I was very excited to receive and try these items out for myself as I’ve always wanted to develop my leadership skills more. However, both the book and guidebook seemed off topic to me and had a difficult time keeping my interest peaked. I’m not saying they don’t have a purpose, however I’m not quite sure what the label for it would be. Leadership just wouldn’t be my first thought.

I honestly believe this is one of those types of products that many people love and it works for them, but our family is just too quirky for. We wanted so badly for it to work out, but our learning styles being different than many other families’ plays a part in here as well. (So please, if this is something that sounds like you might like, feel free to visit the website and reviews and don’t just go based on how it worked for the Schotts. That being said, because this is a Christian blog, I want to mention that this leadership curriculum is not Bible based. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I just don’t want you to assume it is as that is what you usually find on this site.)

Leadership Garden Legacy is offering a Spring Special Discount of 20% to all TOS Review Crew readers! To participate, enter promo code TOS-SS20D upon checkout. This is a limited time offer and the code will expire on May 31, 2013. In addition, they offer some discounted Tool – Bundle packages as well… And guess what! The code even works on them! What a great deal!


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